What is happiness?... and where can I buy some? J

This morning I read a blog in the NY Times (my news addiction of choice) about a Tibetan lama who is called the ‘happiest man on earth’. It really got me thinking about the definition of happiness, and what could possibly elevate your happiness to the point where you gain this exultant title?!

Merriam Webster defines happiness with the following entry:

Pronunciation: \ˈha-pē-nəs\ Function: noun. Date: 15th century

1.obsolete : good fortune : prosperity

2. a: a state of well-being and contentment: joy b: a pleasurable or satisfying experience

3. felicity, aptness

The article delves into the idea (or theory, or scientific something-or-other) of happiness being obtained through the art of meditation. It simply amazes me when I read about people who go on years-long meditations. (The latest craze in extreme sports: meditation... I digress...) I don’’t have much experience with meditation, but dabbled in it a little during my yoga year in Iraq. It is an interesting beast, to which I gained the utmost respect for. That is, not before I went through the usual insecurities of a budding relationship.

I began taking the yoga class on a whim to change up my gym routine of running and then lifting weights 6 days a week- as much as my sanity and body loved it- you need to give it a spark occasionally. Our instructor was a retired (and then called back to Active Duty; read: slightly perturbed.) LTC who owned his own studio in N. Cali, and gave us classes for free. What a treat. So there you have it- perfection! I had seemingly made it through the first iteration, thighs burning, brain all confused; when our yogi tells us the last 20 minutes will be for meditation. *enter: warning bells, sirens, panic* I wracked my brain for any recollection of being told HOW to meditate- I came up with nothing. Now what?! So there I was, sitting cross-legged on my yoga mat, listening to my every breath, eyes closed, totally clueless, anxiously trying to come up with the recipe for meditation. Longest 20 minutes EVER.

When it was over, I walked out of there feeling like an imposter, as if I had meant to buy the designer yoga experience and had really walked away with the not-so-designer faux-ga version. I didn’t know if I could make myself go back. I talked myself into embracing the idea of meditation before the next class. Sound the bell - Round 2. I found myself quite relaxed. My mind was clear, yet focused, and I didn’t feel so shy and anxious. From that moment; I walked out of every class feeling like the weight of the world had been taken from my shoulders, all of the worry, stress, and blah-ness of Iraq would melt away in those precious last minutes of class. Score one for the amateur.

Since Iraq, I haven’t done yoga, nor have I done any meditation. I think the time is upon me to get back to it. I’’m feeling pretty anxious and stressed here right now, and need another escape. Running is my first love when it comes to stress, and I’ve been invoking my right to run as many miles as my feet can handle. I always feel great after a run, but there is something that still isn’t quite jiving with life here in lala-land (as I so affectionately call it). Maybe there IS something, both scientifically, and mentally, about meditation. Must conduct more research.

I’m off to find my path to that over-the-top, euphoric, CONSTANT feeling of happiness. Maybe one day I’’ll be named the happiest gal on earth. Ok, so everyone who knows me knows that’s not likely, but it will be worth the journey. I’m sure of it. Join me?